A recent comment on BLDGBLOG reminded me of a short article I read in The New Yorker, about elevator hacking, and whether or not such hacking is an urban myth.
In an old horror movie, for instance, there’s a scene where the dastardly, evil psychiatrist gets into an elevator in his old, spooky mental hospital and he hits the button for the janitorial floor… Only it’s not the janitorial floor at all, see, but where he keeps the real, poo-throwing lunatics. Nobody else knows about it; the floor is hidden in plain view.
It’s the purloined floor.
In any case, the idea that you don’t really know where your elevator might go is totally fascinating to me. It’s like the opening scene in Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland, where the narrator can’t tell if the elevator he’s in is going up or down, or even moving at all… But then the doors open – and he may not have felt it, but he’s clearly gone elsewhere. He’s been vertically displaced.
Back to The New Yorker. “Supposedly,” the author writes, “if an elevator passenger simultaneously presses the ‘door close’ button and the button for the floor he is trying to reach, he can override the requests of other passengers and of people waiting for the elevator on other floors. The elevator shifts into express mode, racing directly to the floor of his choosing…”
Despite the (suspicious?) denials of elevator-maintenance companies, one wonders what else might be possible in the world of elevator hacking. Could you… end up in another building? Or maybe go sideways, through the floor?
I was an intern once, in Washington DC, but the building I worked in was really two buildings in one: they’d been joined together (apparently), and so the floors didn’t quite match-up. In other words, elevators on the west side of the building could reach floors 1, 2, and 4, but elevators on the east side could only go to floors 1, 2, and 3. Or however it was – it was ages ago.
But, you’d find yourself thinking, perhaps if I found a third bank of elevators, I could reach floors 6, and 7, and -8, and…? The mysticism of the elevator hack.
Things, of course, get even more complex when you consider the so-called space elevator they’re trying to build right now. Which leads directly – like a hacked elevator – to the ultimate question: if you could hack it, where would you go?